Tri-City star inspired by hockey idol Davison

TED WYMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

Brendan Shinnimin learned to believe in the goal from an inspirational young man who was dying of cancer.

Today, the junior hockey player from East St. Paul is putting everything he absorbed from the late Todd Davison to good use.

"I learned a lot from him and he started Believe in the Goal (a foundation to raise funds for cancer research)," Shinnimin said in a phone interview from Kennewick, Wash., this week. "That's kinda my motto. Set goals for myself and believe that I can achieve them. He's definitely one of my hockey idols."

Shinnimin, an 18-year-old second-year centre with the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League, is off to a sizzling start this year.

Surge

He entered the weekend second in WHL scoring with 15 goals and 34 points in 18 games and has been a big part of the Americans (15-3) early-season success. This comes after Shinnimin scored just 25 points last season in 64 games.

When asked to explain the offensive surge this season, he points to the work ethic he developed while playing for the Winnipeg Thrashers of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League, where Davison was an assistant coach until he passed away a couple of years ago.

"He coached me in midget and he was a smaller player like myself," said Shinnimin, who is 5-foot-10, 176 lbs. "He always gave me tips and things to be aware of because he played in the (WHL). He's a guy that a lot of guys who played with him on the Thrashers look up to and try to implement a lot of the stuff he taught us when he was there."

That should be good news for the Americans, a team which features a whopping 10 players from Winnipeg, many who played for the Thrashers.

Shinnimin plays on a line with Adam Hughesman and Johnny Lazo, fellow Winnipeggers who also formed a line with him on the Thrashers a few years back.

"We've got some chemistry and it has been working out pretty well so far this season," Shinnimin said.

That might be an understatement.

Hughesman is second on the team with 11 goals and 26 points, while Lazo is fourth with 18 points, one back of Winnipegger Brooks Macek, who has 19.

"There's not as much pressure going to Tri-City because you know all these guys and you know they are going to have your back," said Shinnimin, who played one season with the MJHL's Selkirk Steelers before graduating to the WHL. "It makes you feel more at home. It's easy for everyone to get along because you've already made friends with them in a previous year. It makes it easy for the whole team to have a tight dressing room."

That close-knit dressing room has worked wonders so far. The Americans are ranked fifth in the CHL and are setting their sights on a league championship.

"Obviously I'm pretty happy with the way the season has started not only for myself but for the team too," Shinnimin said. "Our team has had a great start. I think this individual success is coming from the team success."

Shinnimin had a lot of motivation to improve this season. He was eligible for the NHL draft last June but was passed over. He's hoping to attract some attention as an 18-year-old and competing for the scoring lead should get the job done. It could even lead to an invitation to Team Canada's tryout camp for the World Junior Hockey Championship.

"I didn't get drafted last year so I looked at what I needed to work on so I can get drafted this year," he said. "I went back and worked on those things in the off-season and I think they have paid off so far. Hopefully, it turns some heads among the scouts and I'll get drafted at the end of the year."

Shinnimin is not surprised by his success so far this season because he set a goal for himself to become more of an offensive force and worked toward it with his off-season training regimen.

"I thought I finished off pretty strong last season so I knew what I was capable of coming into this season," he said. "I didn't know it would be this good but I knew I would be contributing more offensively this year. I thought I battled pretty hard and worked pretty hard in the off-season to get where I am, in a spot where I can play an offensive role. That was my goal coming into this year, was to play an offensive role and be one of the go-to guys. I knew there was going to be an opportunity this year so as soon as I got that opportunity I just grabbed on and never looked back and it has been working out well so far."

While he would love to compete for the WHL scoring title all year (he's only four points off the lead now), the goal Shinnimin is believing in now is reaching the Memorial Cup, which will be played in Brandon. It's the perfect location for a team teeming with Manitobans.

"It would be like playing right at home," said Shinnimin.

"That's our main focus and we don't really focus on individual success as much. We know that if our team does well, individual success will come with it. It would be nice to win a scoring title but it's not my main focus. I want to be playing in Brandon."

That's the kind of goal Todd Davison would have believed in as well.

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca

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BRENDAN SHINNIMIN

- Team: Tri-City Americans

- Position: Centre

- Shoots: Left

- Age: 18

- Height: 5-foot-10

- Weight: 176 pounds

- Hockey Idol: Todd Davison

- Fun fact: Shinnimin is one of 11 Manitobans on the Tri-City Americans, including 10 from the Winnipeg area


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